Global Solo Challenge – Who would you call in an emergency?

Global Solo Challenge – Who would you call in an emergency?

by Dave Proctor Oct 31 9:49 AM PDT

GMDSS Architecture © Global Solo Challenge

In this article, I will look at some of the security telecom systems and requirements that will be available to skippers in the 2023/2024 Global Solo Challenge (GSC).

Prior to the mid-19th century, the only realistic way a ship could talk to another ship or to a coast station was by using signal flags or by semaphore (again using flags). It was of course by line of sight only.

In 1844, Samuel Morse invented Morse code, using a pattern of dots and dashes to designate the letters of the alphabet. This allowed ships to use signal lanterns at night or mirrors, reflecting the sun in daylight, to talk to each other.

Also, around the same time, the first maritime pyrotechnic flares were introduced, which helped rescuers locate any vessel in distress.

Over the years morse code remained the primary means of signaling, although the use of lights tended to be replaced by morse code over radio.

Surprisingly, even though morse radio signals existed earlier, it was in 1912 that a standardized international emergency frequency of 500 MHz was adopted. Prior to this, ships only used their own company’s frequency. This change came after the sinking of the RMS Titanic.

Indeed until 1988, the maritime distress system was based on Morse code on 500kHz (MF) and voice radiotelephony on Channel 16 (VHF) and 2182kHz (MF). However, it should be noted that for long distance (HF) communications, Morse dots and dashes survived radio interference and spurious much better than the human voice.

In the modern era, maritime communication systems have developed (eg automated electronic mail systems and satellite telephony), as have the infrastructures available (eg geostationary satellites for global positioning).

In 1988, the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) was introduced by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) under the wing of the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS).

These rules carry the weight of an international treaty.

To help me fully understand these obligations, I spoke to a former Royal Navy communications expert and latterly GMDSS program instructor and examiner – Ian Stairs.

Continue reading the full article here…

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